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Plymouth posties deliver defiant message to bullying bosses
Ryan Aldred, Plymouth Socialist Party
Postal workers at the West Park delivery office in Plymouth took unofficial strike action from 24-26 July after Royal Mail's refusal to deal with bullying and harassment.
A manager who had already been removed from one office and had had ten complaints and more than 50 grievances raised against him was still working alongside those who had made complaints, prompting the walkout.
Clearly going against their own policies and procedures Royal Mail refused to suspend the manager pending investigation. As one striker put it "this is clearly a test of the union's strength. Three members of staff have gone sick with stress in the last couple of weeks and some have been reduced to tears.
"If there is a problem the company need to investigate it. Some were nervous about going out unofficially but they've [management] lost the art of negotiation. They were chucking our personal belongings out of the gate when we walked out. Saying 'we'll leave you out on the streets!' We've had 100% solidarity with the whole office coming out in support of the strike.
"Senior managers are on £70,000 a year and they're now trying to do our work so hopefully now they'll know what it's like. It's funny, the moment there's a strike on all of a sudden they've got nothing to do so managers get shipped in from all over Devon to try and undermine the strike."
By Friday, gate meetings had been organised at all four depots in Plymouth. The strength of feeling was such that the other three depots had agreed to walk out on 27 July if the manager wasn't removed. This would have meant that the only thing being delivered across Plymouth would have been a defiant message to the bosses!
As soon as word had gotten around that the strike was in danger of spreading, Royal Mail management suddenly rediscovered the art of negotiation and Communication Workers Union reps were called in to negotiate a deal to end the strike.
When asked about how much things have changed since privatisation Jason responded "It's no longer about the service it's about the shareholders. They go on about customer service but they don't care that mail isn't going out, they would rather close ranks around the managers."
Postal workers were grateful for the support given by the Socialist Party during the strike. While this issue has now been resolved, it is clear that it is only a matter of time before what has become a systemic problem of bullying and harassment resurfaces.
The Socialist Party calls for the renationalisation of Royal Mail and an end to the culture of bullying that has emerged under private ownership. Service, not the shareholders' profits needs to be the bottom line.
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